About Tokyo Tech

History of the Main Building

The Great Kanto Earthquake and Campus Relocation

Development Plan for the Ookayama Campus in 1933Development Plan for the Ookayama Campus in 1933

Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) was founded as the Tokyo Vocational School in 1881. Its campus was located at Kuramae in Taito City near the Sumida River. In September 1923, in the midst of preparing to become a degree-conferring university, the Great Kanto Earthquake struck and severely damaged its buildings. The School was only able to resume classes in November and even then it was forced to hold classes at various universities and schools in Tokyo that were undamaged by the quake.

In April 1924 the School acquired the current site in Ookayama and began construction of temporary buildings.

Temporary School Buildings in Ookayama circa 1928Temporary School Buildings in Ookayama circa 1928

Construction of the Main Building

The Foundation of the Main Building in 1931The Foundation of the Main Building in 1931
Reinforced Steel Structure of the Main Building in 1932Reinforced Steel Structure of the Main Building in 1932

In 1929 the School obtained the status of a degree-conferring university and was renamed Tokyo Institute of Technology. Plans were made at this time to improve the Ookayama Campus in accordance with the Earthquake Reconstruction Project for national universities. Two buildings constructed from this time, the Main Building and the Chemical Analysis Building (West Building 1), are still in use today.

Construction of the Main Building was started in 1931 and completed in 1934 after a second-phase of construction. Tokyo Tech's Campus Reconstruction Department designed this magnificent building in the center of Ookayama Campus. It is an SRC (steel reinforced concrete), three-storied structure with a total floor space of 24,269 m2 including a basement and a tower. The building initially housed the president's office, the Institute's library, lecture rooms and various meeting rooms.

Façade of the Main Building in 1940Façade of the Main Building in 1940

Main Building During World War II

In the last stage of World War II, in particular in May of 1945, many buildings on the Ookayama Campus were heavily damaged by air raids. However, the Main Building miraculously escaped the fires.

During this time many students were mobilized by the government for production to make up for the shortage of labor. In July of 1945, the then president, Koroku Wada, brought mobilized students together and started holding classes again in the Main Building.

During the war the Main Building was painted in camouflage colors and the slope in front of it was utilized for sweet potato fields.

Camouflaged Main Building and Sweet Potato Fields in 1947Camouflaged Main Building and Sweet Potato Fields in 1947

A symbol of Tokyo Tech

The Main Building maintains its value as an example of modern architecture from the early Showa period. It has witnessed much of the history of Tokyo Tech and has become a symbol of Ookayama Campus.

Main Building in the Spring of 2012 (Not open to the public)Main Building in the Spring of 2012 (Not open to the public)

SPECIAL TOPICS

The Special Topics component of the Tokyo Tech Website shines a spotlight on recent developments in research and education, achievements of its community members, and special events and news from the Institute.

Past features can be viewed in the Special Topics Gallery.

Published: January 2013